14th September 1785
Reference Numbert17850914-97
VerdictGuilty > theft under 40s

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817. JOHN WILSON was indicted for feloniously breaking and entering the dwelling house of Lewis Ducrog , on the 28th day of August last, about the hour of three in the afternoon, one John Perry being therein, and feloniously stealing therein 1800 copper halfpence, value 3 l. 15 s. the property of the said Lewis .


I live in Fleet-market , the left hand side, I am a tallow-chandler ; on the 28th of August last, during my absence my house was entered, and my property taken out of the cupboard in the parlour, which was broke open, to the amount of eight or nine pounds; I left my house at a quarter before three; there was nobody at home when I left it, the door was fast.

Were all the windows fast? - I cannot say with certainty, I heard nothing of it till between seven and eight in the evening; the property was afterwards found in the necessary in Poppin's court; there was four pounds worth restored to me, the other part I saw at the Eagle and Child in Shoe-lane, and is now to be produced, there were fifteen papers of halfpence, I saw them there.


I live sometimes in lodgings, on the 18th of August last, I was at the prosecutor's house, he desired me to come and look after it; on Sunday I got the key from his father's, none of the family were within, I unlocked the door and locked it after me, I went up stairs to the kitchen and laid the key upon the table; I staid there till four o'clock, and then I heard a noise below stairs; I came down and found the door wide open, and I saw a man stoop down and pick up a handkerchief with a great bulk, I cannot say what it was; he took it from the bottom step of the stairs, and I saw him take it up and run away; I asked him what he did there, he made something of a droll answer, but I could not understand, being hard of hearing; and before I could ask another question he was gone; then a gentleman came to the door and asked me if I belonged to the house; I said yes; then says he the house is robbed; I said how could that be when I was in the house.

Court. How could you doubt that the house was robbed, when you found the door open? - I thought it was something

belonging to himself that he snatched away; then a young man came, and we found the outside door broke open, and the property that was is in it gone; I saw but one man.

Look about, and see if you see him? - I cannot see him.

Look at the prisoner, and tell me whether that is the man you saw? - That is not him.

Court. Were the windows below stairs fast and shut? - I did not examine at all.

Mr. Garrow, Prisoner's Counsel. You should know the man that you saw in the house from ten thousand, should not you? - I think so.

You are sure this was not the man? - Yes.


I saw the prisoner come out of the house of the prosecutor with a bundle in his hand, on Sunday the 28th of August, as nearly as I can recollect, about half past three, or a little before four; I was within a yard, he passed me very quick.

Did he run or walk? - He ran, and I ran after him through several turnings about Shoe-lane, till he came to New-street, and I followed him down another court into Shoe-lane, near a public-house, but I lost sight of him near half a minute, and I was informed he was gone into this public-house, that was the Eagle and child; I went to inform the prosecutor's father-in-law, and he and I, with a constable, came up to the prosecutor: when we went in I saw the prisoner run out at the door that he went in at, and that we went in at; he was the same person I pursued; we were at the back part of the house wh en I saw him run out; he was pursued, and ran into a chandler's-shop about a dozen doors from the public-house, and the constable and two or three more followed him, and took him there.

Mr. Garrow. What are you by profession? - A hair-dresser, I live in Bell-Savage yard, Ludgate-hill.

Are you a master hair dresser; - I live with my father.

Is your father a hair-dresser? - Yes, I am not a master, I am journeyman to him.

Were you alone in Fleet-market? - Yes.

Did you know this man before? - I never saw him before.

How long was he in your sight before you lost him? - Not above a minute.

How long was he out of your sight? - A whole minute.

So that a man passing quickly by you, and who was in your sight about a minute, you swear to him? - I think I can.

Am I to understand you have some doubt? - I think I can positively swear to it.

Can you swear in a case that affects a man's life? - That was the person that I saw for a minute, one person is like another, I should be loth to be too positive, I can only say to the best of my knowledge.

How often was this young man examined before a magistrate? - I do not know, I was not at the examination; I was not known, they did not know who I was, he did not know me notwithstanding I lived in the neighbourhood.

How did they find you out to go before the Grand Jury? - It was mentioned at a shop in the neighbourhood, and they said the person that gave information to Mr. Cover was absent, and they did not know who it was; and the shopkeeper said I can tell you who it was, it was young Chitty; that was about three days after the Sunday that the prisoner was taken up.

When was he committed? - I heard the day after.

How long might the person that you watched in the Eagle and Child have continued there, while you went for Mr. Cover and the constable? - About ten minutes, Mr. Cover lives a few doors from the prosecutor's.

You never shewed yourself to Kelly on the Sunday? - After the person was taken into custody I went about my business; I am quite a stranger to these matters; I did not know whether it was material or no.

Court. You did not know that Mr. Cover did not know you personally? - I

did not know but what he did, I knew him, and I thought he knew me.


I am a relation to Mr. Ducrog, on Sunday the 28th of August last, Chitty came to me, I did not know him, at that time he came to inform me, that he saw two men come out of Mr. Ducrog's house with bundles, and that he had watched one of them to the Eagle and Child in Shoe-lane, we went there with the constable, we went into the house, being informed there was a very suspicious person in the back-room, and when we went in he was not to be seen; after a very little time there was a cry in the passage, here he is! here he is! my situation at that time was quite at the further part of the room, at the back of the house, expecting he might have got into the yard on that cry, I ran out as fast as I could, and saw a man running in the street; I run into the house; I had never seen his face till I saw him in the room where he was taken.

Did you find any property at the Eagle and Child? - I saw a handkerchief with halfpence in it, but I cannot say whose possession it was in, he was fastened in the room, I believe the constable broke the door, he said he had nothing there but what was his own, and denied knowing any thing about it, and said we might search his lodgings.

Mr. Garrow. Were his lodgings searched? - Triflingly searched, and there was nothing found, there was a pistol and vast quantities of keys hanging about, he denied at first giving any account of himself, at last he said he was a locksmith.


On Sunday in the afternoon, I came home very near four o'clock, I live at No. 7, Robinhood-court, Shoe-lane, and they said there was a thief run in there, and that he was gone into the Eagle and Child; I went in for the paper, I went backwards, and the prisoner was sitting having part of a pint of beer, and according to the description this was the man, I said nothing to him, I went out of the door, I did not take notice whether any thing was besides him; I told the constable and the people that I thought he was within, and said I will stay at the door, I had the paper in my hand the mean time; I went in and said to the mistress of the house, these gentlemen are come in to see if that is the man; the prisoner came to the bar, and said what is the matter, he pushed by me, and ran as fast as he could, and I called to them that were backwards, and they came out directly after, and they followed him home to his own lodgings, where he run in, and I followed him up stairs, I never lost sight of him till he ran into the house, I heard somebody running before me up stairs, and I called to the constable to come up stairs, and he was taken there; the constable burst the door open, he had locked himself in, they knocked several times at the door, but he did not answer; when the constable began to burst open the door, he said what is the matter, I'll open the door, and he opened the door, and the constable said, you have a thief in the house, says he, I have no thief in the room; I looked at him, and said this is the person that was at Mrs. Brown's, take down the pistols from the mantle-piece, there were pistols over the mantle-piece.


I live in Blackhorse-alley, Fleet-market, I was standing at master's door, on Sunday in the afternoon, and two men came running up the court, there was a gentleman in a blue coat and red cape, running after them, that was Mr. Chitty; he said he saw the two men come out of the tallow chandlers, they ran up the court, and they had a bundle under each of their arms, and a stick in their hands, they ran up Fleet-street, we ran after them, there we lost one of them, we ran up King's-head-court, there we met one of them coming by the King's Printing Office, with a bundle under his arm, I am quite sure that is one of them; a man in half mourning cried that is the gentleman,

then he ran back through Robinhood-court, and I saw him go into the Eagle and Child in Shoe-lane.


I lived at the Eagle and Child when this affair happened, but I am come away since; I saw the prisoner in the Eagle and Child, he had a bundle in his hand, and put it under his coat, and when he saw somebody come in doors he threw it down.

Did you see him come in? - No; I cannot say who took up the bundle, I ran out with the mob, I know the bundle if I see it, I am sure this man at the bar is the man that had the bundle, he had a kind of half mourning coat when he came to our house, but he changed it when he got in his room.


I was sitting in my parlour, and I heard a bustle, and I went backwards and found this bundle of halfpence, I did not see the prisoner.


I live on New-street-hill, I was standing at my own door, the prisoner came by, and asked to leave a handkerchief there, I told him he was a stranger to me, and I would not have a handkerchief left, he said a person he owed a little money to was after him, I told him it should not be, I did not know him, I am sure the prisoner is the person.


Between three and four in the afternoon I heard a noise, and I went down to see, and I saw Mr. Cover and Mr. Chitty talking together, and they asked me to go with them, I said we had better have a constable, so I fetched Mr. Rush the barber, in Shoe-lane, so we went to the Eagle and Child, and we walked backwards, the tap room is backwards, we turned ourselves about, but we could not see the person we were looking for, while we turned about, somebody said there he goes, there he goes; Mr. Clare run first after him, when he first went into the house where he lodged, he locked himself in, we went and searched for him and found him in the two pair of stairs, and the door was fast, we could make nobody hear there; we were going up further and somebody says he is in that room I believe, it was some child; the constable said if you will not open it, I will break it open, and the constable forced the door, he was stood up in his shirt sleeves the prisoner said what is all this about, says I we came to look after such thieves as you, and I charged the constable with him, we searched the house and found a little bunch of keys, and there was a box, I insisted upon having it opened, there was a pistol hanging over the chimney, there were several old locks in the box, and small keys in bunches, then he was taken away.

What coat did he put on? - I cannot say.

Clare. He put on a kind of a sky blue coat, and there was an old great coat that hung over the other.

He was without a coat? - Yes.

Where was the coat he had taken off? - I cannot tell, I did not find it, I did not look for it.

Prisoner. They searched the room when they came in, and they found no other coat but the one that hung up, and a great coat, I never had a grey coat in my life.

Mr. Garrow. The constable looked expressly for that coat did not he? - Yes.

He could not find it? - No.

Prisoner. My Lord, and Gentlemen of the Jury, on Sunday I went into the Eagle and Child, there was one John Fisher that will be called was there.


These are the halfpence I tied up, I know them by the way they were tied up, I never saw any tied up so before.

(The halfpence handed up to the Court.)

Court. What is there particular in this tying up? - I always tie them up in half a sheet of white brown paper.

How do other people tie them up? - In coarse I believe, I did not tie up this blue paper; I can take my oath these are my tying up.

How, how? - I generally put sixpenny-worth

worth of farthings in every five shillings worth.

Mr. Garrow. You was examined before the Alderman? - Yes, I there swore these bundles were my tying up.

Prosecutor. That young woman generally does tie them up.


On Sunday the 28th, I went into the Eagle and Child, and called for a pint of beer and the paper, I did not see the girl; immediately as I went in a man got up from his seat, and went hastily out of the house, I went and sat in his seat, I went out after I had drank my beer, I went into my own room and laid down, and pulled off my coat and hung it up; they knocked at the door, I opened it directly, they searched the bed and every place, they took down a brace of pistols I had to clean for a gentleman who was here last night, but he was obliged to go into the country; at last the gentleman said he was sure I was the person, and I had a grey coat on, they looked all about and found no grey coat, I know nothing of it, if I had been guilty, I should not have gone to the house I had used in the neighbourhood where I was known.

Court to Clare. Was there any other man like the prisoner at Brown's house,? - No, Sir, there was nobody in the box but himself when I went in, there is one box with a hole in it four or five inches square, that looks to the street, the prisoner sat in that box; I never lost sight of the person that came out of Brown's house, there was nobody but himself before me, that went into the house where he was.

The prisoner called five witnesses who all gave him a very good character.

Mr. Garrow observed, that there might be amongst these half-pence a considerable quantity of bad half-pence, which would reduce the value.

Prisoner. My Lord, with submission to your Lordship, I have a witness that was in the Eagle and Child when I came in.

Court to Jury. I will hear the evidence of that witness, though a little out of course.


(Examined by the Court.)

I live at No. 24, in Shoe-lane, I am a journeyman watchmaker.

Who do you work with? - Mr. Charles Allen .

Where does he live? - He lives at the house, No. 42, I have lived there fourteen years.

Do you know the prisoner at the bar? - I have seen him before.

Do you know the Eagle and Child? - Perfectly well, I was there about four in the afternoon on Sunday the 28th of August, I went in to call for a pint of beer, I staid, I suppose, about five minutes, when the prisoner came and called for a pint of beer, and sat down in a seat where a man had just gone from, just as I had come in and sat down.

Did you see that other man come in? - No.

What time did you go out of the house? - Just about four?

How long were you there before the prisoner came in? - I look upon it to be about five minutes.

Did you see the other man go out? - Yes, just as this prisoner sat down.

Did you see any bundle? - None at all, not till after the prisoner came in a second time, the prisoner went out a little time after the other man.

How long did he stay out? - I look upon it about five minutes before he was brought in by the constable; I did not see anybody follow him out, there was a disturbance when he came in; there was a search for a bundle; somebody said a man had come in and left a bundle.

Court. Take care what you say; will you swear that before this prisoner went out of the house there was no bustle in the house? - As the prisoner was going there came in several people, and made a piece of work just about the time he went out, and in five minutes he was brought in; I did not see any bustle before he went out.

Did you see Mr. Chitty there, or the

constable? - I saw the constable and Mr. Cover.

Upon your oath, did they not come in before the prisoner went out? - I cannot say, I did not take notice, I cannot take upon me to say, I do not remember any thing about it.

How long was the other man gone before they came in? - He went before the prisoner did.

How long was he gone before Mr. Cover came in? - I suppose near ten minutes in the whole.

Do you know the maid Sarah Grantam ? - Yes, I did not see her.

Do you know Mr. Brown? - Yes, I did not see him till after the half-pence were brought; I did not go out till after the prisoner was taken, I was in the tap-room when he came in, and when the other man went out I staid in the tap-room till the prisoner went out.

Court to Mr. Cover. Look at that young man? - I have been looking at him, I really do not think he was there, there were several women, and a man or two like a smith, but I do not think he was there at the time; I have no knowledge of his face.

Clare. I did not take notice of this witness; I took notice of two or three women in the box, and two or three men with them, but who they were I cannot say.

Sarah Grantam . I do not know this witness, I know he is an apprentice of Mr. Allen's.

Was he at your house at all on Sunday evening? - I did not see him at all; I do not remember his ever coming to the house at all; there were some people in the further box, the next box to where the prisoner sat, I cannot tell whether he was one of them; I am sure the prisoner is the man that put down the bundle, &c. and he knocked down some of his beer when he went out.

GUILTY Of stealing to the value of 39 s.

Transported for seven years .

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.

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